People at the centre of the design process

Front Cover of the Routledge Companion bookValerie Fletcher is a well known campaigner for inclusive/universal design in the built environment. Her chapter in The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice is an excellent primer on universal design. After setting the social context of ageing populations and a new view of disability, Fletcher traces the evolution of universal design in both the United States and United Kingdom.

She discusses legislation, accessibility standards, and that universal design evolves from accessibility. Fletcher says that universal design “builds from a floor of accessibility” with fixed standards that are similar across nations. This is a key point at which many people become confused – there is a perception that accessibility IS universal design. She explains the difference.

The contributions by Selwyn Goldsmith (UK) and Ron Mace (US) are discussed, and more recently the contributions by Hubert Froyen (Belgium). Brazilian architect Marcel Pinto Guimarães also gets mention. Of particular interest is the work being done in Singapore to go beyond accessibility codes and to promote universal design.

Valerie Fletcher presents an informative and compelling case for universal design in the 21st Century.